In the upcoming months I’ll be featuring some widely different diet beliefs that are each successful in their own regards. As Health Coaches, we do not prescribe to one diet over another; something I learned called bio-individuality. Megan and I DO emphasize eating REAL FOOD. No one way of eating works for everyone. Which is why I love reading about passionate and dedicated people who have bio-hacked their own bodies. Megan reminded us last week about what it means to ‘own’ your goals:
Enter Zach- he has done just that.
We met a few weeks into our freshman year At the University of MN- frat party nonetheless. Eleven years later I have stood up in his wedding and my husband and I are the godparents of his son. His wife, a dear friend, and I go all the way back to 6th grade. Zach has always been a well studied, articulate and passionate student of life – he is a pharmacist after all. When he is sparked by something, he goes all in.
The two of us have had many conversations about food over the years and, on our own paths, have found food to be a passion. What makes him so interesting is that he has been where we all have been.
Here is Zach’s journey:
Five years ago I saw a picture of myself and thought, “Wow! I got fat!” My first child was 6 months old and I did NOT want to be a fat dad. Gaining weight was not my only issue; I also had neck pain, asthma, allergies, sleeping issues, and depression. At the time, I didn’t realize that what I was eating could be contributing to these problems.
My wife picked up a diet book (recommended by the Kardashians, of course). It was “The Body Reset Diet”. Fairly simple: eat 3 smoothies a day consisting of greek yogurt, fruit, and other variations. Then walk 10,000 steps per day. Easy enough. After my son went to sleep I walked every night listening to my favorite podcast, the Adam Carolla Show. Pretty soon I was walking 6-7 miles per day and really enjoying it. Then I thought, “why not run?” I used to run in high school. I even ran a marathon when I was 18 (although I hated it..so painful).
So I downloaded the “Couch to 5k” app on my phone. It started slow; walk for 2 min, run for 30 seconds. “Are you sure this is 30 seconds? I think this thing is broken!” But I pushed through, improved bit by bit, and ran my first 5K in years! Then I ran a 10K, then a half marathon, and 3 marathons since then.
At this point I had lost about 40 pounds. And most people think that all that running will shed all your fat. Well, not so. I still had a belly no matter how much I ran. I also came to realize through lab testing I was pre-diabetic. Most people who are pre-diabetic become diabetic eventually, and the health care system just considers this a truth. I started to run even more and suffered injuries with the worst being plantar fasciitis. I thought I was stuck.
Then early 2016 a guy named Vinnie came on the Adam Carolla Show podcast. He was a trainer except he said “exercise is a terrible way to lose weight”, “eat the skin on your chicken”, “cook your eggs in butter”, “grains and sugar are not needed for energy”. This trainer completed a 508-mile bike race, so he caught my attention. I looked into what he said, read a lot of books on nutrition, and joined social media groups that discuss his way of eating. I actually read the real studies done on carbohydrates and fats.
Vinnie’s way of eating is NSNG (no sugar no grain) and I have followed it for over a year. I have gained energy, felt better, and eliminated the need for my asthma medication! I finally felt good about eating and opened my palate up to different foods. At first it may sound restricting, but really it’s liberating because my taste buds have changed and I appreciate more diverse foods.
As I continued to research and learn, I decided to eat ketogenic and have enjoyed that for the last 8 months. I usually consume <20g carbs per day. I also have gotten into weight lifting: squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc. 3 days per week. I still run and bike, but not the crazy amount I used to. Also no injuries for the last 2 years.
I’m active in a couple Facebook groups that help motivate me: “Vinnie Tortorich’s No Sugar No Grains”, “The Ketogenic Athlete” and “Ketogains”. The last one has some hardcore weight lifters. Each group has a slightly different take but all are very low carb.
I’ll be racing my first triathlon in July and looking forward to being outdoors as much as possible with my kids.
What are your food beliefs
It’s somewhat complicated, but if I could boil it now to 3 words, it would be: EAT REAL FOOD. The outer edge of the supermarket is a good rule of thumb (although there are exceptions…dark chocolate, raw nuts). Processed food is typically stripped of fiber, nutrients and added with crappy vegetable oils. What is left is dense energy. Tasty for sure. Good for the human body, no.
Humans have walked the Earth for 2.5 million years and have evolved to eat whatever food was around. They hunted for protein sources and picked plants that were growing out of the ground. There were no Cheese-Its, donuts, Coca-Cola, fruit snacks, Cliff Bars, or lucky charms. It is no surprise that when we started to eat large amounts of processed food, disease rates skyrocketed.
As a pharmacist, I see this play out in real life. Diabetes (type II) and all its complications costs the health care system hundreds of billions of dollars per year. And it is completely preventable. These patients suffer with loss of vision, poor kidney function, nerve pain, heart disease, foot damage, skin conditions, hearing impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. It is a painful march to an early death. It is a modern disease and it is due to “modern” food. Patients pick up their 15 pens of insulin and then 5 candy bars. It’s truly sad. As a pharmacist I have one message: “Don’t allow yourself to get type II diabetes”.
What is lighting you up at the moment?
If you do nothing else look up Dr. Robert Lustig on Youtube. He is a pediatric endocrinologist. He has the chops and ability to put all this in perspective.
“The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz is a great book about how we got into the low-fat diet “advice” rut
Gary Taubes has 3 books: “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, “Why we Get Fat”, and “The Case Against Sugar”. Takes some time, but are good reads.
Primal Endurance by Brad Kearns, Mark Sisson: talks about how to train in a “primal method” eating good food and valuing your health overall.
A couple good websites:
Fitness Confidential with Vinnie Tortorich
Primal Endurance Podcast
The Joe Rogan Experience has had some good health guests on
What is your morning routine?
I try to make sure I get 7-8 hours of good sleep. This seems to be very important for a lot of health markers. However, sometimes the only chance I have to exercise is at 5 am because of work or kids. So I wake up early 4:45 am(most days) and drink a cup of black coffee. I test my AM blood glucose. I lift weights 2-3 days per week otherwise I go for a run, or I bike to work and count that as my exercise. I like to eat a lot of protein 35-50 grams for breakfast. So 5 eggs with bone broth does the job usually. Sometimes bacon or sausage if the mood strikes.
Today I am grateful for…
I’m grateful for everything. Family, health, my job. I try not to feel entitled to anything. We are so fortunate to be able to just live and not worry about survival on a daily basis. Life is a gift and I am fully grateful for anything I can do with it.
Thank you so much Zach~
I’m not sure I could have said it better myself. Actually, I couldn’t. Am I the only one that stopped and reread that last part over? I’m always inspired by people who use what they have and get it done. If that means walking after the babies are asleep or waking up at 5 to get the start to your day the way you WANT. I can do that- and so can you.
Having a health coach isn’t about giving you all the answers or an exact meal plan. (Although we can help you with that.) It’s about the accountability. If that’s something you could use, let us know.
Steeping in what its like to eat 5 eggs in the morning,